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WAREHAM, MA-Opposition to one of this region’s largest proposed developments is growing fiercer as activists and officials from the Cranberry Country Coalition kick off a campaign to fight the company’s plan to develop a 6,000-acre parcel that straddles this town, Plymouth and Carver.

The proposal, put forth by A.D. Makepeace & Co., a locally based developer, includes 3,500 to 6,000 units of housing, approximately 3 million sf of commercial, retail, and office space, a resort hotel and conference center, and four golf courses. The company needs zoning changes for its project to go ahead so a three-town task force was created to deal with the development.

But local activists and town officials object to the proposal because of concerns over density, traffic and lack of open space. “Its utterly ridiculous,” Charles Gricus, director of planning for Wareham, tells GlobeSt.com. “They want a zoning bylaw with no restrictions.” According to a statement released by the Coalition, the parcel on which Makepeace wants to develop its project, “is currently home to globally rare pine barren forests and habitats, cranberry bogs, ponds, rivers and streams, and one of the largest aquifers in New England that directly affects the quality of area drinking water.”

Representatives of Makepeace did not return calls by presstime, but in its own released statement, Makepeace insists that its plan will preserve 70% of the parcel as open space by minimizing lot sizes and concentrating on open space. Gricus, however, contends that what the developer calls open space is open to debate. “Of course its 70% open space if you count golf courses, pools and those type of things,” he notes.

According to Gricus, Makepeace has not been forthcoming regarding information that will demonstrate the impact of the development on the three communities. He says that the South Eastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District indicated that there will be real traffic problems in the area even without the development but “we got zero information from Makepeace.” The towns also wanted to know how the transfer of development rights would work but again Gricus says that they didn’t get any answers. “They talk about smart growth but its all about money and corporate well-being,” he says. “Those guys have not supplied one piece of information. We wasted $250,000 setting up the task force. They should have footed the bill.”

According to the Coalition, a separate group of conservation organizations offered to purchase the land from A.D Makepeace earlier this year but their offer was rejected. Reportedly, the group plans on approaching Makepeace with a new offer so they can leave it undeveloped.

Under current zoning rules, the parcel would allow Makepeace to build 1,700 homes with the land in Wareham zoned for one and a half acre lots and three-acre zoning restrictions in Carver and Plymouth. Despite the task force, each town will vote separately on the zoning bylaw. “People with half a brain in their head won’t allow this to happen,” says Gricus.

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